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August 30 2014

Unique 2000-Year-Old Wooden Toilet Seat Found


Archaeologists excavating a Roman fort in northern England have unearthed a 2,000-year-old wooden toilet seat — the only find of its kind to have survived.

The seat was found in a muddy trench at the Roman fort of Vindolanda, which was a key military post on the northern frontier of Britain before the building of Hadrian’s Wall. It had clearly been well used by soldiers stationing there.

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August 30 2014

Massive 4,000-year-old wine cellar reveals the wild nights of ancient Canaanites


The discovery of a 4,000-year-old wine cellar in Israel has provided the best direct evidence yet of the raucous, boozy celebrations that were a key part of the region’s culture at the time.

The cellar was found during a recent excavation at Tel Kabri, Israel, described in a new paper in the journal PLOS ONE. In the remains of a palatial storage complex, archaeologists uncovered ceramic jars and fragments of other vessels dating from the Middle Bronze Age, a period which ran from roughly 1900 BC to 1600 BC.

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August 30 2014

World's oldest Aga discovered in Croatia


Prehistoric experts in Croatia claim to have found what they say is the world's oldest Aga. The 6,500-year-old oven was unearthed in a ancient home during an archeological dig at a Neolithic site in Bapska, a village in eastern Croatia, which experts say is one of the most important in Europe.

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August 30 2014

Ancient metal workers were not slaves but highly regarded craftsmen


In 1934, American archaeologist Nelson Glueck named one of the largest known copper production sites of the Levant "Slaves' Hill." This hilltop station, located deep in Israel's Arava Valley, seemed to bear all the marks of an Iron Age slave camp – fiery furnaces, harsh desert conditions, and a massive barrier preventing escape. New evidence uncovered by Tel Aviv University archaeologists, however, overturns this entire narrative.

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August 30 2014

Holes in the Ground Could Be Our Longest-Lasting Legacy


It's estimated that humans have altered over half of the planet's surface, and those changes are easy to see — the ice sheets are melting, forests are shrinking and species are going extinct.

People have changed the planet so dramatically that some geologists think the Earth has entered a new phase in its geological timeline, named the "Anthropocene." But what about the marks humans are leaving deep underground?

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August 29 2014

An Icy Solution To The Mystery Of The Slithering Stones


A century ago, miners working in California's Death Valley reported seeing boulders on the desert floor with long trails behind them — as if the stones had been pushed across the sand. But despite 60 years of trying, no one ever saw what moved them.

Now scientists think they've solved the mystery of the "slithering rocks of Death Valley." Using GPS tags pasted to the boulders, and a video camera, a geologist from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and his engineer cousin have evidence that broad, jagged panes of melting ice push the stones across the desert, nudged in one direction or another by the breeze.

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August 29 2014

Study examines 13,000-year-old nanodiamonds from multiple locations across three continents


Most of North America's megafauna—mastodons, short-faced bears, giant ground sloths, saber-toothed cats and American camels and horses—disappeared close to 13,000 years ago at the end of the Pleistocene period. The cause of this massive extinction has long been debated by scientists who, until recently, could only speculate as to why.

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August 29 2014

Animals first flex their muscles: Earliest fossil evidence for animals with muscles


A new fossil discovery identifies the earliest evidence for animals with muscles. An unusual new fossil discovery of one of the earliest animals on earth may also provide the oldest evidence of muscle tissue -- the bundles of cells that make movement in animals possible. The fossil, dating from 560 million years ago, was discovered in Newfoundland, Canada.

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August 29 2014

This fish walks better when it's raised on land, study finds


Sometimes a fish out of water really can do better on land! Scientists studying a strange fish called a bichir from riverbanks in Africa have found that when they raise this fish in a terrestrial environment, their bodies actually change in ways that make them more successful walkers.


Related: Fish raised on land give clues to how early animals left the seas

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August 29 2014

Mouse memories 'flipped' from fearful to cheerful


By artificially activating circuits in the brain, scientists have turned negative memories into positive ones.

They gave mice bad memories of a place, then made them good - or vice versa - without returning to that place.

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August 29 2014

Scientists stake out wolves to see whether their yawns are contagious


People do it. So do chimpanzees, bonobos and baboons. Even dogs do it: They yawn when someone near them yawns. But why? Scientists believe it’s a sign that these animals are capable of feeling empathy – and a new study of wolves suggests it’s more widespread among animals than experts had realized.

Yawning in response to another yawn isn’t an emotional reaction per se, but the tendency for yawns to be contagious has been “clinically, psychologically, neurobiologically, and behaviorally linked to our capacity for empathy”.

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August 29 2014

Scientists are recording the sound of the whole planet


In a few weeks, sensors in Indiana will go online that will record, in the words of Bryan Pijanowski, every sound the Earth makes. The array of microphones, geophones, and barometric gauges will run for a year, taping everything from the songs of birds arriving in the spring to the vibrations of the continent as ocean waves pound the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. They will measure earthquakes on the other side of the world and the stomping of cattle nearby, the ultrasonic whistles of bats and the barometric drop of cold fronts.

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August 29 2014

Mercury in the environment changes the way birds sing


WAYNESBORO, Virginia—Standing in the woods along the South River, Kelly Hallinger held the microphone up to capture the cacophony of songs, one at a time: the urgent, effervescent voice of the house wren; the teakettle whistle of the Carolina wren; and the sharp, shrill notes of the song sparrow.

When she got back to Williamsburg with her tape recorder, Hallinger sorted through the hours of bird songs. She turned them into digital files in the computer, then analyzed them. The differences were striking.

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August 29 2014

Songs take your brain down memory lane


Whether it's Beethoven or Eminem - everyone has a favourite song that takes them back to a point in time.

Now, US scientists have uncovered why listening to a song you like might be enjoyable but a favourite song may plunge you into nostalgia.

They have discovered that music triggers different functions of the brain, they report in the journal Scientific Reports.

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August 29 2014

The universal 'anger face': Each element makes you look physically stronger and more formidable


The next time you get really mad, take a look in the mirror. See the lowered brow, the thinned lips and the flared nostrils? That's what social scientists call the "anger face," and it appears to be part of our basic biology as humans.

Now, researchers at UC Santa Barbara and at Griffith University in Australia have identified the functional advantages that caused the specific appearance of the anger face to evolve.

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August 29 2014

How Movies Synchronize the Brains of an Audience


HOLLYWOOD, California—Picture a movie theater, packed for the opening night of a blockbuster film. Hundreds of strangers sit next to each other, transfixed. They tend to blink at the same time. Even their brain activity is, to a remarkable degree, synchronized.

It’s a slightly creepy thought. It’s also a testament to the captivating power of cinema, says Uri Hasson, a psychologist at Princeton University. At a recent event hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Hasson presented his research into what happens inside people’s brains when they watch movies.

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August 29 2014

Magnetic brain stimulation treatment shown to boost memory


Memory can be boosted by using a magnetic field to stimulate part of the brain, a study has shown. The effect lasts at least 24 hours after the stimulation is given, improving the ability of volunteers to remember words linked to photos of faces.

Scientists believe the discovery could lead to new treatments for loss of memory function caused by ageing, strokes, head injuries and early Alzheimer's disease.

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